In memoriam : RI Obituaries

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In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby semper occultus » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:18 pm

Been gestating for ages the idea of an obituaries thread to mark ( either with mourning or not ) the passing of those figures good & bad relevant to the board .....……here it is.......and idly googling authors I found my first most worthy nominee for RI Valhalla had sadly passed away very recently .

Carl Oglesby obituary
Angry, radical and persuasive leader of the American left during the 1960s

Godfrey Hodgson
guardian.co.uk
Friday 16 September 2011

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Carl Oglesby, who has died of lung cancer aged 76, was one of the most talented and interesting of the leaders of the 1960s American left. Within a short time of joining Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in 1965 he became its president. He was passionate in his opposition to the Vietnam war, making a landmark speech at an antiwar rally in Washington, and became convinced that unless profound changes took place in American society, there would be more similar wars.

His honesty and intensely personal search for the truth made him a divisive figure, and he was subsequently attacked both by Marxists and by radical groups such as the Weathermen. Oglesby was invited by the Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver to be his vice-presidential running-mate for the Peace and Freedom party in 1968, but he declined.

Unlike many leaders of the American left, old and new, Oglesby came from an authentic working-class background. His family had migrated from the south, his father from South Carolina and his mother from Alabama. His father worked in a rubber plant in Akron, Ohio. Oglesby himself wore a beard, not as a badge of radicalism, but because he had suffered from acne in adolescence and his friends believed that his family were too poor to have it treated.

Oglesby was several years older than the other leaders of SDS, such as Tom Hayden and Todd Gitlin, and was married with three children by the time he became involved in radical activism. He had earlier studied at Kent State University – where the national guard later killed four students during a demonstration against the Vietnam war – but dropped out and went to live in Greenwich Village, then the bohemian quarter of Manhattan, where he worked as an actor and wrote three plays.

In 1960 he was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, working as a technical writer for the Bendix corporation, a defence contractor, and studying part time at the University of Michigan, where SDS was formed. When he wrote an article in a campus journal criticising US policy in Asia, three SDS members visited his home to recruit him. His intelligence and commitment so impressed his new colleagues that he was soon elected president of the organisation.

Oglesby was involved in a celebrated "teach-in" at Michigan, and he helped to organise the big demonstration in Washington on 17 April 1965, just after President Lyndon Johnson had started bombing North Vietnam. In November that year he spoke at a major demonstration against the war in Washington. His speech became a classic of the antiwar movement. "It was a devastating performance," said the scholar and author Kirkpatrick Sale, "skilled, moderate, learned and compassionate, but uncompromising, angry, radical, and above all persuasive. It drew the only standing ovation of the afternoon [and] for years afterwards it would continue to be one of the most popular items of SDS literature."

Oglesby was essentially an autodidact and developed a hybrid political philosophy of his own. He made himself unpopular with some by insisting that the men who led the US into the war were not bad people as individuals, and that the war was the product of systemic faults in American society. He came under the influence of the libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard and even aspired to a kind of fusion between the old right, in which he included such conservative figures as General Douglas MacArthur and Senator Robert Taft, and the new left.

In his 1967 essay Vietnamese Crucible, Oglesby rejected the "socialist radical, the corporatist conservative, and the welfare-state liberal" and challenged the new left to embrace American democratic populism and the American libertarian right. He refused to pay a portion of his taxes in protest at the Vietnam war.

After SDS collapsed in 1969, Oglesby worked as a musician, writing and recording two albums, described as psychedelic folk rock. He taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and settled in New Jersey. He became obsessed with the Kennedy assassination and other conspiracies and wrote several books about them.

His three marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his partner, Barbara Webster, and by two daughters and a son from his first marriage.

• Carl Oglesby, political activist, writer and academic, born 30 July 1935; died 13 September 2011

Carl Oglesby: Political activist and campaigner against the Vietnam war
By Michael Carlson Thursday 29 September 2011

www.independent.co.uk

Carl Oglesby was perhaps the finest orator of the anti-war movement in Sixties America, and one of its best thinkers. He was a settled family man when he became president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and led the protest against the Vietnam War, but his version of radical politics, always inclusive and rarely extreme, eventually put him at odds with others in SDS who grew frustrated with their inability to bring about change through the political process.

Oglesby came from working-class roots. His parents had migrated from the deep South to Akron, Ohio, where his father worked in a rubber mill, and where Carl was born in 1935. He grew up a true believer in the American way, even winning a high-school prize for an essay on the rightness of America's stance against communism.

But while at Kent State University he began to look in other directions, dropping out and moving to New York to pursue acting. He wrote three plays – which were produced off-Broadway – and an unpublished novel, before returning to the Midwest. There he married, had three children, and took a job in Ann Arbor, Michigan writing technical materials for the Bendix corporation, who were, among other things, a major defence contractor.

He studied part-time at the University of Michigan to finish his degree. After writing an essay critical of American policy in Southeast Asia for the college paper, three members of the newly formed SDS came to his house to recruit him; soon he was elected president of the organisation.

His writing and performing skills translated into dynamic leadership, and his maturity made him a valuable organiser, starting with teach-ins on the Michigan campus and culminating in the 27 November 1965 March on Washington for Peace, where he aligned SDS with a number of more mainstream groups opposed to the growing Vietnam war. His speech "Let us shape the future" drew the day's only standing ovation, and in print form became a landmark essay. He argued that American anti-communism moved in the service of corporate interests which were happy to profit from tyrannies with which they could do business. But he was most stirring when he recalled his own shattered idealism.

Confronting those who called him "anti-American", he said "Don't blame me for that! Blame those who mouthed my liberal values and broke my American heart."

Oglesby declined an invitation from the Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver to be his running mate on the Peace and Freedom Party's 1968 presidential campaign; by then SDS had grown to over 100,000 members, but was already crumbling from within. Oglesby was at odds with the Weathermen faction, which advocated violent Marxist revolution, a stance Oglesby described as "road rage and comic-book Marxism".

The man who hoped argument could persuade leaders to change was expelled from SDS for being a hopeless bourgeois liberal. Ironically, as the new left disintegrated, he was editing the excellent New Left Reader (1969) for a mainstream publisher.

His illusions again shattered, Oglesby turned to music, releasing twofolk-rock records which were well-reviewed but didn't sell. In 1972 he helped found the Assassination Information Bureau. His lucid writing was directed toward conspiracies, and he was particularly interested in the murder of John F Kennedy. In 1976 he published Yankee and Cowboy War: conspiracies from Dallas to Watergate, which linked the JFK assassination and Watergate by identifying a conflict in the American power elite between the eastern establishment bankers and the growing western money in oil, aerospace, and military contracting. In the 1990s he published two further books analysing the various theories behind the JFK killing.

He taught at Antioch and Dartmouth Colleges and MIT, and also co-authored – with the eponymous house restorer – Bob Vila's Guide to buying your Dream Home. His memoir of the anti-war movement, Ravens in the Storm, appeared in 2008.

As he said "It isn't the rebels who cause the troubles of the world, it's the troubles that cause the rebels." He died of lung cancer. Married and divorced three times, he is survived by his partner, Barbara Webster, two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.

Carl Preston Oglesby Jr, writer and activist: born Akron, Ohio 30 July 1935: married Beth Rimanoczy (marriage dissolved; two sons, one daughter), second Anne Mueller; third Sally Waters (marriages dissolved); died Montclair, New Jersey 13 September 2011.


Friday, 30 September 2011
CARL OGLESBY: THE INDPENDENT OBITUARY
irresistibletargets.blogspot.com

My obit of Carl Oglesby, SDS leader and author of one of the most interesting of assassination studies, was in yesterday's Indy (29 September); you can link to the online version here. By the time I came to consider SDS, Oglesby was already on his way out, but his earlier writings and speeches were impressive, and The New Left Reader, which he edited, was a handbook of sorts as I wandered my way through protest. Oglesby's version of left-wing politics reflected his working-class upbringing, and a certain idealism which originally led him to found useful alliances with the wider anti-war and civil rights movements, with whom he organised the first great March on Washington. But his faith in the ultimate rationality of America's political leaders proved misplaced, at best. When the Weathermen came along, Oglesby was condemned as being hopelessly bourgeois, when really what he might have been was hopelessly American.

From that perspective, it's easy to understand the importance the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK had for him; he helped found the Assassination Information Bureau, and he wrote a number of books which reflected the wealth of information he gathered. The most interesting is The Yankee and Cowboy War, which tries to create a sort of unified field theory of the assassinations, and connect the dots between Dallas in 1963 and Watergate in 1972.

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It was a foreunner of what came to be known as 'Deep Politics', considering the forces that really power our country (and indeed, today, the world) regardless of who holds nominal power, and he tried to identify a power-struggle within that American elite between the old money of the east and the newer money in the west. If you don't see the relevance today, consider the Bush family, Skull and Boners all, who begin as Yankees, merchant bankers in New York with Prescott becoming a senator from Connecticut--but transform into Cowboys--George W goes into the oil bidnez, heads the CIA, and eventually becomes president, and Shrub, full scale born-again Texan, doesn't do much of anything but serves the needs of Cowboys as he becomes governor of Texas and then president, where he gets to recapitulate the Reagan malaise on a far grander scale.

I hadn't seen much by Oglesby on that malaise; he did two books on the JFK assassination in the 90s, but the more interesting of them draws heavily on Yankee/Cowboy, and I've yet to read Ravens In the Storm, his memoir of radical politics in the Sixties, but I surely will.
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I never even knew he'd made two folk-rock records, and it's interesting because one of the covers makes him look just like the great keyboardist Barry Goldberg. But in many ways he symbolises the better impulses of the Sixties generation--even though, like most of that generation's leaders, he came from the pre-baby boom. Perhaps someone ought to consider why my generation has proven so incapable of leading itself, at least in a progressive direction.

3 comments:
Caleb O. said...
I appreciate your thoughtful insights into my father's life and character.
You have hit on many of the points I feel have been missing in a number of the tributes and obituaries that I've seen so far.
Caleb Oglesby, NYC

2 October 2011 18:48
Michael Carlson said...
Thank you for the comment; I'm very pleased. It was a privilege to be able to show some appreciation of your father, and I'm very glad if some of my own impressions were accurate. My condolences,
best
MC

7 October 2011 22:39
Robin Ramsay said...
Very good, Mike. Oglesby influenced me profoundly with an essay of his in Ramparts, 'In Defence of Paranoia', which said that the American left need to look at the assassinations of the sixties rather than sticking to class forces, economics etc. I took this to be true of the UK, as well – not assassinations per se (though there were many of those in Northern Ireland) but what became known as parapolitics; and later deep politics.
I had no idea he did music and there are some tracks of his on YouTube - and they're not too bad, either.

18 October 2011 11:39
Last edited by semper occultus on Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby Hammer of Los » Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:08 am

Nice one semper as ever.

Your philosophical works are extremely cogent and persuasive.

One smart cookie lets hear it for Semper! Lets big it up for Semper!

You do worry me a bit though. Take care of yourself man.

But this Carl Oglesby's the dude! Clearly, the Spirit moved in Carl Oglesby. You can take that exactly as literally or as figuratively as you like. It literally makes no difference to me.

He was passionate in his opposition to the Vietnam war, making a landmark speech at an antiwar rally in Washington, and became convinced that unless profound changes took place in American society, there would be more similar wars.

His honesty and intensely personal search for the truth made him a divisive figure, and he was subsequently attacked both by Marxists and by radical groups such as the Weathermen. Oglesby was invited by the Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver to be his vice-presidential running-mate for the Peace and Freedom party in 1968, but he declined.


It was a devastating performance," said the scholar and author Kirkpatrick Sale, "skilled, moderate, learned and compassionate, but uncompromising, angry, radical, and above all persuasive.


Oglesby was essentially an autodidact and developed a hybrid political philosophy of his own. He made himself unpopular with some by insisting that the men who led the US into the war were not bad people as individuals, and that the war was the product of systemic faults in American society. He came under the influence of the libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard and even aspired to a kind of fusion between the old right, in which he included such conservative figures as General Douglas MacArthur and Senator Robert Taft, and the new left.


In his 1967 essay Vietnamese Crucible, Oglesby rejected the "socialist radical, the corporatist conservative, and the welfare-state liberal" and challenged the new left to embrace American democratic populism and the American libertarian right. He refused to pay a portion of his taxes in protest at the Vietnam war.


The Vietnamese Crucible, eh? These forums are our crucible, are they not?

Thank you Semper for introducing me to Carl Oglesby.

He was quite clearly years ahead of his time.
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby sunny » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:29 pm

I can dig it. [Oglesby, that is]
Choose love
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby semper occultus » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:41 am

^ ...gee thanks..

Charles Higham, Noted Film and Political Biographer, Dies at 81

5:13 PM PDT 5/2/2012 by Todd McCarthy
www.hollywoodreporter.com

The author profiled, often in controversial fashion, the likes of Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, Katharine Hepburn and Orson Welles.

Charles Higham, the prolific author of best-selling and sometimes controversial biographies of film stars and political figures, died April 21 at his home in Los Angeles of an apparent heart attack. He was 81 and had broken his hip in a fall.

Among Higham’s most notable books were Kate: The Life of Katharine Hepburn, his first best-seller, in 1975, and The Duchess of Windsor (1988). Certainly his most controversial was Errol Flynn: The Untold Story (1980), in which the author offered evidence that the actor had worked as a Nazi spy, stirring up a frenzy of denials and debate that still persists. His Howard Hughes: The Secret Life became the main source for Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.

Two of Higham’s most enduring works dealt directly with American business and financial complicity with the Third Reich and its sympathizers before, during and after World War II: Trading With the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot, 1933-1949, and American Swastika: The Shocking Story of Nazi Collaborators in Our Midst From 1933 to the Present Day.

The son of Sir Charles Frederick Higham, the English advertising tycoon and member of Parliament, young Charles was raised in upper class London until his father died when the boy was 7. With his mother, long since divorced from her husband, Charles lived in much reduced circumstances during World War II and thereafter until, in 1954, he emigrated to Australia.

Working as a journalist and film critic in Sydney, he began profiling Hollywood stars and directors as well as contributing to international film journals. Based on his reputation as a poet, he was invited to be Regents Professor and Writer in Residence at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1969 and shortly thereafter settled permanently in Los Angeles, where he became a regular Hollywood feature writer for The New York Times and conducted interviews for Time-Life Books’ phonographic history of American films.

He also quickly became notorious in some circles due to his contention, in his generally admiring scholarly book The Films of Orson Welles in 1970, that the celebrated director suffered from a “fear of completion” that helped explain his many unfinished film projects. During the next 35 years, Higham wrote biographies of well over a dozen major show business figures, including Welles, Florenz Ziegfeld, Cecil B. DeMille, Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Charles Laughton, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Merle Oberon, Louis B. Mayer and the sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.

Still, Higham’s personal favorite among his biographies was of an author, The Adventures of Conan Doyle: The Life of the Creator of Sherlock Holmes (1976); his father had served on World War I committees with the famous writer.

Among Higham’s many other books were Hollywood in the Forties and The Celluloid Muse (both with Joel Greenberg); The Art of American Film, 1900-1971; Dark Lady: Winston Churchill’s Mother and Her World; Murder in Hollywood: Solving a Silent Screen Mystery, about the notorious 1922 murder of film director William Desmond Taylor; The Midnight Tree: A Fairy Tale of Terror; and five volumes of verse. His frank autobiography, In and Out of Hollywood: A Biographer’s Memoir, was published in 2009. He also wrote many plays, most notably His Majesty Mr. Kean and Murder by Moonlight, which were staged in Los Angeles and New York. Higham received the French literary prize, Prix des Createurs, in 1978, as well as the Poetry Society of London Prize.

Higham had been married once, in the 1950s. His longtime companion, Richard Palafox, died two years ago. He leaves no survivors.



..and this rip-snorter from the telegraph


Charles Higham

Charles Higham, who has died aged 81, was a much-feared and notoriously bitchy celebrity biographer whose works fell squarely in the “unauthorised” category.

www.telegraph.co.uk

Image

The British-born Higham, who began his career as a poet, wrote some two dozen biographies, exposing the “guilty secrets” of, among others, Howard Hughes, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Orson Welles and the Duchess of Windsor.


His most sensational work was Errol Flynn: The Untold Story (1980), in which he alleged that the swashbuckling matinee idol was an unscrupulous Nazi spy and rampant bisexual whose appetites led him to Mexico for the procurement of young boys and who had affairs with Truman Capote, Howard Hughes and Tyrone Power — to name only a few.


The book became a bestseller but was roundly denounced, not only by the actor’s widow but also by other biographers, who accused Higham of altering FBI documents to sustain his charges against Flynn. Higham himself was forced to admit that he did not have any direct documentary evidence that Flynn was a Nazi, though he claimed to have “pieced together a mosaic that proves that he is”. Flynn’s family subsequently tried to sue for libel, but since the actor had died in 1959 the suit was dismissed.


The Flynn biography was a fairly typical example of Higham’s approach, and much of what he wrote about the rich and famous (particularly those who were no longer alive to sue) was regarded by many critics as the product of an overactive and self-serving imagination.


In his unashamedly self-promoting memoir, In and Out of Hollywood (2009), Higham presented himself as a sort of Chandleresque figure, dedicated to sniffing out other people’s darkest secrets. Yet as he admitted, he hated interviewing people for his books, and critics remarked on how much of his work was based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses.


The themes of fascism, closet homosexuality and sexual perversion that had proved so productive in the case of Flynn were themes that Higham would mine again and again. That his motives were probably financial is suggested by his admission in an interview that there was “certainly a difference of an enormous number of sales” between his poetry books and his biographies. His Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life (1988) might have been more aptly titled “Fascist, Lesbian Harlots at the Court of St James”, suggested one reviewer, who went on to observe that for the Duchess to have been guilty of even half the peccadilloes attributed to her, “early on she would have succumbed to exhaustion”.

Higham claimed she was the mistress not only of Count Ciano, but also of Ribbentrop. He maintained that the Duchess’s attractions included exotic sexual techniques that she had picked up on visits to the brothels of Peking, which allowed the Prince of Wales to make the best of his supposedly modest endowments. He set a tone for vilification later explored by other biographers.

Meanwhile, Higham’s Cary Grant: The Lonely Heart (1989, with Roy Moseley) included allegations of homosexuality, experiments with LSD, wife-beating, miserliness, and a claim that the actor was in the grounds of actress Sharon Tate’s house “visiting a young male” on the night in 1969 when Charles Manson’s so-called “family” went on its infamous killing spree.

The credibility of these and other allegations was undermined by the book’s numerous inconsistencies: at one point Higham concludes: “There is no evidence that the relationship between Cary and Sophia Loren was physically consummated” — only to refer to the actress four pages later as Grant’s former lover. The work was variously described as “tongue-smackingly nasty” and “prissily judgmental”, with one critic going so far as to dismiss it as a “back-stabbing rat’s book, the literary equivalent of grave robbing”.

Higham won similarly excoriating reviews for Howard Hughes: The Secret Life (1993), in which the tycoon was presented as a gay sadist who (in between affairs with Grant, Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn) frequented male brothels and hauled boy prostitutes into his car for sex. One reviewer observed that Higham seemed to have “reached the point where most of his subjects have slept with one another”. None the less, his biography (which also claimed that Hughes had been centrally involved in Watergate and probably died of Aids) proved particularly lucrative as it formed the basis of Martin Scorcese’s 2004 film The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the eccentric magnate.

“There are two ways to write a Hollywood biography,” a critic observed. “Either you take eight years, as A Scott Berg did with Goldwyn, or you take a few minutes, the way Charles Higham seems to do with everything he writes.” Given his record, therefore, it is difficult to know how much of his account of his own early life is to be believed.

Charles Higham was born in London on February 18 1931. His much-married father, Charles Frederick Higham, had risen from being a £3-a-week salesman to found his own advertising business and had sat as Conservative MP for South Islington from 1918 to 1922 (he was later knighted). Young Charles, the son of his father’s fourth marriage, spent his early years in considerable comfort, attended by servants and equipped with a wardrobe of miniature Savile Row suits.

His parents divorced when he was very young, and his father’s new wife, he claimed, sexually abused him. After his father died, when Charles was seven, he went to live with his mother, now remarried, a mentally unstable, sexually rapacious alcoholic, according to his account.

After leaving school Charles found work in a bookshop and began to write poetry, publishing two volumes by the age of 22. In 1952 he married Norine Cecil and two years later they moved to Australia, where he continued to write poetry, compiled a number of horror anthologies and began writing about film.

His growing awareness of his own homosexuality soon brought an end to his marriage (his wife, meanwhile, confessed that she loved a woman) and he threw himself into pre-Aids era promiscuity, featuring orgies, prostitutes and bath houses.

In Australia, Higham began to write about celebrities for a newspaper which sent him on assignments to Hollywood. He was researching a book on Orson Welles when he accepted a teaching position at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1969. Soon afterwards he moved to Los Angeles and became a Hollywood correspondent for The New York Times.

In 1970 the university published his Films of Orson Welles, in which he suggested that the director suffered from a “genuine fear of completion” that led him to abandon projects when they were nearly finished in order to be able to blame others for their flaws.

The book was castigated by the film historian Peter Bogdanovich as being so full of inaccuracies and unsupported conclusions that it amounted to “an illustrated textbook on how to criminally impair an artist’s career”. Although this was a pattern Higham would repeat many times, his first commercial success — Kate (1975), a biography of Katharine Hepburn — had been, unusually for him, authorised.

Higham was not pleasant company. He had an irritating habit of insulting waiters in restaurants, and often sat at the table for 45 minutes before deigning to consult the menu.

He lived with his long-term partner Richard Palafox, a Philippino nurse, until Palafox’s death in 2010.


Charles Higham, born February 18 1931, died April 21 2012
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby OpLan » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:10 am

Via 911Blogger

Jeff King 1946-2012
Jeff King, an early scientific voice in the 9/11 Truth Movement, died on June 19 after a lengthy battle with amyloidosis and multple myeloma. He studied physics and engineering at MIT, left for a number of years, then re-enrolled, finished with a degree in Biology (with a combined course of study later labeled Biomedical Engineering), then went on to medical school and became a physician.

Jeff was a neighbor and a good friend. You may know of him through his online name, Plague Puppy . Some of his thinking about 9/11 was speculative and out of the mainstream of the 9/11 Truth Movement, but I knew him to be extremely inquisitive, well read, independent in his thinking, and non-dogmatic. He was one of the early influences in my getting involved with the 9/11 Truth Movement. He was a gentle and caring person, beloved by his patients.

He is probably best know for the talk shown here:
He will be missed.

--David Chandler
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Re: In memoriam : Eric Sykes

Postby Seamus OBlimey » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:07 pm

Where does all the best comedy come from? Death and war

Twelve years ago I interviewed Eric Sykes, who died this week. I was given just as long as it took him to sip down a small glass of white wine. He struck me as a melancholic, reserved man. He told about when he'd first seen Hattie Jacques, who became his comedy partner. "She was singing My Old Man Said Follow the Van, and holding a parrot in a cage. At the end of the number, she leapt in the air and did the splits. I'd never seen such charisma."

I asked him whether he fancied her, and he chuntered: "Not in the way that you think I fancied her." I asked him about his deafness (he was deaf since his early 30s): had fighting in the war caused the problem? "It didn't help."

Sykes had been shelled repeatedly at Normandy, and while appearing in an army gang show called Three Bags Full, he visited Belsen, wherre he saw some of its last inmates. In his autobiography, Sykes observed, " ... nothing angers me more than when some people today not only defend the Hitler regime but also deny that the death camps ever existed". Yet he was keen in later life on Ian Smith, leader of the white minority government in Rhodesia ("a tall, handsome man, bearing facial scars of a devastating crash in his Spitfire defending Britain … ", so it appears the war didn't give him any great moral overview. But I think it did allow him to access a beguiling minor key in his writing. In one episode of his sitcom of straitened suburbia, Sykes, Peter Sellers plays a leather-jacketed delinquent, who recalls his more innocent boyhood when he pumped the organ in church: "It was 26 pumps for Abide With Me and 48 for Rock of Ages. And when it came to the Hallelujah Chorus … me little arms was a blur."

Sykes's best work is perhaps in the Goon Show scripts he wrote with Spike Milligan, when the strain of producing them alone became too much for Milligan. Sykes was the only writer Milligan considered an equal, even if he did once attempt to murder him by flinging a heavy paperweight at his head. One collaboration, The Secret Escritoire, is among my favourite Goon Shows. It begins with the line: "That same afternoon, three weeks later …" and is set in the far east, among other places. Neddie Seagoon is fighting his way through thick jungle: "For weeks, we cut our way through the dense jungle that runs alongside the arterial road." The script reveals a fascination with the Oxford dictionary definition of the word "escritoire", as you might expect from two ambitious autodidacts.

Besides a threadbare education, Sykes and Milligan – and the other Goons – also had the war in common. Milligan first met his fellow Goon, Harry Secombe, in the north African campaign when Milligan was looking for a field gun that he'd "lost". You can see how comedy might have taken root for both of them in the discrepancy between the ideal of soldierly rectitude and human fallibility. At the battle of Monte Cassino, for example, Milligan had been afflicted with a terrible case of piles.

Later, he was hospitalised for shell shock, which is no doubt why people keep getting blown up in the Goon Shows. In The Missing Heir, a bomb features. "Is it dangerous?" Seagoon asks Major Bloodnok, who languidly replies: "Only when it blows up."

My own father joined the army just too late to fight, but did manage to exacerbate his varicose veins by excessive drill (or so the army charitably concluded, for which he was awarded a disability pension). He has speculated ever since about how he might have responded under fire, and he accorded heroic status to those older men who'd "been through it" – the comedians particularly, because there seemed something especially large-minded about turning to comedy after all that. I recall him watching Stanley Baxter on TV in the 70s. Baxter would be mincing around in a tutu, and my dad would say, "He fought in the far east, you know."

I inherited this fascination, and I attribute the darkness and strangeness of the comedy made by that generation to the war. It is in the haunting gloominess of Kenneth Williams' diaries: "This was one of those dark, rainy mornings that I love." Admittedly, Williams had a cushy national service, but he was describing himself as a "suicidalist" from 1947, the year after his demob. The diary chronicles Williams' stockpiling of the "poison" (barbiturates) on which he eventually overdosed; I remember one Goon character, quavering Henry Crun, was always described as "partially dead".

A friend of mine is David Secombe, writer, photographer, and son of Harry, and he told me: "After the war, Spike and my father couldn't quite believe they weren't dead." They felt justified by what they'd been through. According to David, "They'd earned the right to be satirists, or just to be silly." The thing about the Goons was that it was both, and a whole generation subscribed to their take on the war as something horrific, but also absurd.

As a student of those comics I have developed a form of snobbery that says there's something missing from all subsequent comedy, and what is missing is a war. To refine the position: yes, there has been very good comedy since then, but the best of it – Beyond the Fringe, Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, Chris Morris – was directly influenced by the Goons, which arose from the war.

Eric Sykes rated Izzard highly, but he told me he found much modern comedy smug or, as he put it, "fireproof". I think he meant he was against the "high status" comedian: the patter merchant who points out the foibles of everyone else from some Olympian height. This fireproof character is well in with the broadcasting executives, and is not a comedian due to some life event, but because he chose to become one while at university. We know who they are. They tend to occupy the accursed comedy slot on Radio 4 at 6.30pm on a weekday. Their schtick has the lineaments of humour – timing, punchlines, observations – but it doesn't actually make you laugh. Or they crop up on panel shows, where they lounge about being quite funny, but seeming lazy, overentitled. In their own later years, the Goons had a word for the successful, confident comedian who had a distinctive persona that was inflicted on the audience in an almost bullying manner: they called it "achieved comedy." These sorts of performers are usually not personally eccentric, perhaps because nothing has made them so.

Eric Sykes was eccentric – not as bracingly mad as Milligan or Peter Sellers. The latter thought he was possessed by the spirit of Dan Leno, but Sykes ran him close here in that he thought he channelled in his work the spirit of his mother, who died giving birth to him. And so we come back to death, as it seems humour must, and which is why war is so useful in its creation. I wanted to broach this matter of the dead mother with Sykes, but I had been warned he wouldn't "go there" on the record, and in any case, he had finished his small glass of white wine.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... medy-death
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Re: In memoriam : Eric Sykes

Postby Jeff » Mon Jul 09, 2012 10:34 pm

the comedians particularly, because there seemed something especially large-minded about turning to comedy after all that.


Yes.

Thanks for that, Seamus.
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby Hammer of Los » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:57 am

...

Eric Sykes.. told me he found much modern comedy smug or, as he put it, "fireproof". I think he meant he was against the "high status" comedian: the patter merchant who points out the foibles of everyone else from some Olympian height. This fireproof character is well in with the broadcasting executives, and is not a comedian due to some life event, but because he chose to become one while at university. We know who they are. They tend to occupy the accursed comedy slot on Radio 4 at 6.30pm on a weekday. Their schtick has the lineaments of humour – timing, punchlines, observations – but it doesn't actually make you laugh. Or they crop up on panel shows, where they lounge about being quite funny, but seeming lazy, overentitled. In their own later years, the Goons had a word for the successful, confident comedian who had a distinctive persona that was inflicted on the audience in an almost bullying manner: they called it "achieved comedy." These sorts of performers are usually not personally eccentric, perhaps because nothing has made them so.

Eric Sykes was eccentric – not as bracingly mad as Milligan or Peter Sellers. The latter thought he was possessed by the spirit of Dan Leno, but Sykes ran him close here in that he thought he channelled in his work the spirit of his mother, who died giving birth to him. And so we come back to death, as it seems humour must, and which is why war is so useful in its creation.


Yeah, thanks for that one Seamus.

Perhaps he shared an interest in parapsychology with Michael Bentine, who surely should have a thread around here.

I used to watch Sykes with my nan.

She liked Hattie Jacques especially.

But there was clearly always a sadness about the man.

Perhaps it was the war, or the loss of his mother, or more likely both.

...
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby Seamus OBlimey » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:09 am

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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby semper occultus » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:02 am

Jack Caulfield

Jack Caulfield, who has died aged 83, was one of Richard Nixon’s masters of dirty tricks but walked away from the Watergate scandal that caused the President’s downfall.

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Jack Caulfield testifying during the Watergate hearings

A chunky Irish-American and former New York police detective , Caulfield specialised in secret snooping of every kind. When Nixon’s staff ordered him to dig dirt on the Democrats, Caulfield was immediately on the case.

When he first joined Nixon’s campaign team on secondment from the police in 1968, Caulfield was no more than a bit player, the US Secret Service contemptuously dismissing him as the baggage handler. But Caulfield had loftier ambitions.

His ticket to the top came from one of Nixon’s top aides, John Ehrlichman. In March 1969, two months after Nixon’s inauguration, Ehrlichman invited Caulfield to set up a private security agency to provide “investigative support” . It was Caulfield who suggested setting up Operation Sandwedge, illegal electronic surveillance of Nixon’s political opponents, with particular emphasis on their sex lives, drinking habits, tax records and domestic woes.

One of Caulfield’s first acts was to hire a former FBI agent to bug the telephone of a newspaper columnist who was a Nixon critic; and when another journalist wrote disobligingly about the President, Caulfield reported him anonymously to the taxman, prompting an unwelcome audit.

John James Caulfield was born on March 12 1929 in the Bronx. His parents, Irish immigrants, hoped that their son would become a priest. But after studying at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Fordham University, and serving as a soldier in the Korean War, he joined the New York City police in 1953.

Because he spoke fluent Spanish, Caulfield was soon assigned to the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Service and Investigation (BOSSI), where his duties included guarding visiting world leaders. He also protected Nixon when he was Governor of California and, realising that he was a serious contender for the presidency, offered his services to the Nixon campaign in 1968.

One of Caulfield’s more outlandish ideas was the proposed firebombing of the Brookings Institute, a Left-wing think tank critical of American government policy in Vietnam, although the idea was eventually dropped.

In April 1972 Nixon appointed Caulfield assistant director of criminal enforcement (alcohol, tobacco and firearms), putting him in charge of more than 1,500 Federal agents.

When the infamous break-in at Democrat headquarters in the Watergate building, Washington, DC, was discovered that summer, many assumed that the burglary had been part of Caulfield’s Operation Sandwedge. In fact, it had been ordered under the auspices of another Nixon dirty tricks campaign, Operation Gemstone.

But when one of the Watergate burglars revealed Caulfield’s role in Sandwedge, Caulfield was forced to resign. As one of the first witnesses to give evidence before the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, he was asked about claims that, as part of the White House cover-up, he had carried a message to one of the burglars, offering him clemency, money and a job if he would agree not to testify against the Nixon administration and serve a jail sentence.

Nixon’s denial that he had been the source of the offer was supported by transcripts of White House tapes. Caulfield attributed the fact that he was never implicated in the Watergate cover-up to “Irish luck”.

Jack Caulfield, who was twice married, is survived by his second wife, Nancy, and two sons.


Jack Caulfield, born March 12 1929, died June 17 2012

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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby justdrew » Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:32 pm

Alexander Cockburn, 1941-2012
Farewell, Alex, My Friend
by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Our friend and comrade Alexander Cockburn died last night in Germany, after a fierce two-year long battle against cancer. His daughter Daisy was at his bedside.

Alex kept his illness a tightly guarded secret. Only a handful of us knew how terribly sick he truly was. He didn’t want the disease to define him. He didn’t want his friends and readers to shower him with sympathy. He didn’t want to blog his own death as Christopher Hitchens had done. Alex wanted to keep living his life right to the end. He wanted to live on his terms. And he wanted to continue writing through it all, just as his brilliant father, the novelist and journalist Claud Cockburn had done. And so he did. His body was deteriorating, but his prose remained as sharp, lucid and deadly as ever.

In one of Alex’s last emails to me, he patted himself on the back (and deservedly so) for having only missed one column through his incredibly debilitating and painful last few months. Amid the chemo and blood transfusions and painkillers, Alex turned out not only columns for CounterPunch and The Nation and First Post, but he also wrote a small book called Guillotine and finished his memoirs, A Colossal Wreck, both of which CounterPunch plans to publish over the course of the next year.

Alex lived a huge life and he lived it his way. He hated compromise in politics and he didn’t tolerate it in his own life. Alex was my pal, my mentor, my comrade. We joked, gossiped, argued and worked together nearly every day for the last twenty years. He leaves a huge void in our lives. But he taught at least two generations how to think, how to look at the world, how to live a life of joyful and creative resistance. So, the struggle continues and we’re going to remain engaged. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the coming days and weeks, CounterPunch will publish many tributes to Alex from his friends and colleagues. But for this day, let us remember him through a few images taken by our friend Tao Ruspoli.
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby barracuda » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:18 pm

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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:56 pm

Oh my God, that is a shock.

I met her in 1984!
We meet at the borders of our being, we dream something of each others reality. - Harvey of R.I.

To Justice my maker from on high did incline:
I am by virtue of its might divine,
The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby semper occultus » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:26 am

Dr Thomas Szasz

Dr Thomas Szasz, who has died aged 92, was an indefatigable critic of conventional psychiatry, maintaining that it often offended against human dignity and infringed the rights of the individual.

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telegraph.co.uk
5:59PM BST 18 Sep 2012
Szasz argued that the concept of “mental illness” was little more than a metaphor without any pathological referent — that is, it was not based on evidence of disease or other organic malfunction. In an interview in 1969, he said: “When metaphor is mistaken for reality and is then used for social purposes, then we have the makings of myth. I hold that the concepts of mental health and mental illness are mythological concepts, used strategically to advance some social interests and to retard others, much as national and religious myths have been used in the past.” In one of his books, The Manufacture of Madness, he compared the 20th-century tendency to define aberrant behaviour as mental illness to the 17th-century practice of accusing nonconformists of witchcraft.

His seminal work, The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct (1961), was reprinted many times — although Charles Krauthammer, the American columnist and a former practising psychiatrist, once declared: “Thomas Szasz is the kind of author no one reads but everyone knows about.”

According to Szasz, the “helping professions” had established a “Therapeutic State” which interpreted many, perhaps most, dysfunctional and illegal forms of behaviour as the result of factors outside of individual agency. He further argued that such a dominant perspective led to an assumption that individuals are not responsible for their actions; prison terms for felonious crimes, he suggested would be preferable, more condign and more just than time-limited detention in a mental institution.

In addition, he argued that some types of behaviour, for example the consumption of illegal drugs, are incorrectly labelled as “addictions”, implying that the individual has no control over his or her actions.

Interestingly, Szasz, as a lifelong libertarian, abjured making drug-taking illegal, even as he argued that such imbibing was stupid. Throughout his career he insisted that the right to ruin one’s own life was inviolable — even the right to commit suicide .

The author of nearly three dozen books and more than 1,000 articles, Szasz had a long and distinguished career as a Professor of Psychiatry at the SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York, where — at constant risk to his employment — he criticised what he saw as abuses of psychiatric practice which compromised citizens’ freedom. Even the psychiatrist E Fuller Torrey, however, with whom Szasz had frequently crossed swords, conceded at the time of Szasz’s death that, while he disagreed with Szaszian theory regarding a number of major issues, “he made a major contribution to the issue of the misuse of psychiatry”.

Szasz’s work was often misinterpreted and disparaged in the press, which linked him to the “antipsychiatry” movement — one which Szasz reviled and ridiculed (among his recent books was Antipsychiatry: Quackery Squared). He reserved a special contempt for the Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing, a pillar of the anti-psychiatry movement who became a hero of the counterculture in the 1960s.

The son of a lawyer and landowner, Thomas Stephen Szasz was born on April 15 1920 in Budapest. As a schoolboy he played chess and bridge, and at the Royal Hungarian Training Institute he added tennis and ping-pong to his repertoire. Then, in 1938, his family moved to the United States, and he read Physics at the University of Cincinnati (where his uncle, Otto Szasz, taught mathematics) before continuing his studies at the university’s medical school.

Szasz was an intern at Boston City Hospital, and in 1945 took up a post at Cincinnati General Hospital. The next year he moved to Chicago, where he trained in psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

For six years he worked at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and ran his own private practice before being called up in 1954 to serve with the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve at Bethesda, Maryland. He then joined the SUNY Health Science Center.

He received many awards, including the Alfred R Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship and Writing from the Drug Policy Foundation; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute for Public Service; and the Rollo May Award from the American Psychological Association. He also gave his name to the Thomas S Szasz Award for Civil Liberties.

Thomas Szasz married, in 1951, Rosine Loshkajian. She died in 1971, and he is survived by their two daughters.


Dr Thomas Szasz, born April 15 1920, died September 8 2012
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Re: In memoriam : RI Obituaries

Postby Nordic » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:02 am

Like we didn't need another depressing thread around here.

Every time I see the headline for this thread I have a little jolt, thinking someone from R.I. has died!

But no, just a depressing list of dead people!

Just kidding, kinda, carry on!

(and don't mind me, I'm kinda thin skinned these days and probably shouldn't even be hanging around here now except I've got a lot of time on my hands for, well, depressing reasons)
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